Schein inks distribution deal for diabetes products

A new U.S. distribution agreement puts a Long Island healthcare-products stalwart in the thick of the fight against type 2 diabetes.

Global medical-technology provider Medtronic has selected Henry Schein Medical, a subsidiary of Melville-based Henry Schein Inc., as its exclusive distributor of selected diabetes products to primary-care physicians in the United States.

The deal, terms undisclosed, will introduce Schein customers to Medtronic’s cutting-edge solutions for people with Diabetes mellitus type 2, the most common form of the metabolic disorder. Type 2 cases make up about 90 percent of global diabetes cases, with the World Health Organization estimating in 2010 about 285 million diagnoses – roughly 6 percent of the world’s adult population – and Henry Schein estimating about 27.9 million cases in the United States today.

Type 2 diabetes is characterized by hyperglycemia, or high blood sugar, and insulin resistance, in which cells don’t react properly to the insulin hormone. Symptoms include excess thirst, frequent urination and constant hunger. While various treatments exist – including improved exercise and dietary regimens – the disorder is said to shorten life expectancy by 10 years, with long-term hyperglycemia complications including heart disease, stroke and kidney failure.

Against these and other complications stand an assortment of Medtronic devices – including the iPro2 Professional Continuous Glucose Monitoring system and the i-Port Advance “injection port” – to be marketed to U.S. primary-care practitioners exclusively by Henry Schein.

The iPro2 Professional CGM provides physicians with valuable insights into how their patients’ diet, medication and daily activities affect glucose levels over an extended period, according to Henry Schein. Similar to a holter monitor – a portable unit that reads electrical activity in the cardiovascular system – the iPro2 records glucose levels continuously for up to three days, providing as many as 864 separate readings physicians can use to adjust therapies and help patients make other educated decisions.

Medtronic recently enhanced the IPro2’s analytical capabilities, providing “pattern snapshots” that help physicians quickly uncover important issues in a patient’s glycemic control, Henry Schein said.

The i-Port Advance is a prescription-only, disposable “injection port” that allows patients to self-administer prescribed diabetes medications without the sting of a hypodermic needle. The small port, which sticks to the patient’s stomach for days, includes a built-in “inserter device” – a flexible tube known as a “soft cannula” – that actually punctures the skin; patients can then inject medications into the port, which remains attached through swimming, bathing and other daily activities.

It’s an ideal application for the large percentage of diabetes patients who skip their shots due to the physical trauma of routine injections, according to Medtronic, which cites a recent survey by the American Association of Diabetes Educators that reports 47 percent of U.S. patients would be more likely to administer their injections regularly if not for the pain and discomfort.

Other surveys note the rise of CGM tools in the United States, according to Henry Schein, with recent studies proving the benefits of capturing hypoglycemia episodes and glucose variabilities more quickly.

 

The Medtronic distribution agreement is the latest score in a year of big deals for Henry Schein, a Fortune 500 firm and Long Island’s largest public company ranked by revenue with $10.4 billion in global sales reported in 2014.

Already in 2015, Henry Schein has acquired majority shares in Dental Trey, an Italian dental-equipment distributor; Vetstreet, a Pennsylvania-based animal-health software maker; Germany’s Scil Animal Care Co.; and Jorgen Kruuse A/S, a Scandinavian veterinary-products distributor.

Henry Schein also took a 50 percent ownership share of Romanian animal-health products distributor Maravet this year, following the 2014 acquisition of Massachusetts-based equine-supplement manufacturer SmartPak.

Self-billed as “the world’s largest provider of healthcare products and services to office-based dental, animal health and medical practitioners,” Henry Schein this year also was named to the S&P 500, the prestigious index ranking the 500 largest companies traded on NASDAQ and the New York Stock Exchange.